Julie Wallace, RDN, LD
HEART & LIVER FAILURE/
for something nutrishus
I can tell and I know (because she told me) that Julie loves what she does, and we need people like Julie as I think her job would be extremely challenging, although rewarding. We also have excellent timing as it's Julie's birthday tomorrow, so be sure to wish her well!
Why did you become a RD?
Nutrition has always been of interest to me. When I was a small child, I enjoyed learning how to grow food with my father and was already cooking advanced recipes in my teens. In high school, I took a class called “Science of Nutrition” taught by our Biology teacher and fell in love with the concepts that allowed me to teach my friends how to read nutrition labels when we would go to the local grocery store (in a small town there can be little to do).
What area of dietetics do you work in?
I work in Pediatric Nutrition: Heart and Liver Failure/Transplant.
How would you explain what you do?
When my patients, age 0 months – 21 years, are in heart failure, I provide nutrition assessment and interventions to help them maintain a healthy weight and get adequate nutrients, sometimes this is in preparation for a future heart transplant. In some situations, especially with children who have NALFD (Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease), I actually help them to safely lose weight, particularly excess fat, in hopes of avoiding the need for a liver transplant or to ensure they are a better candidate if they do need a transplant. I also perform nutrition assessments in those who are being evaluated for a transplant and provide nutrition-related education for post-transplant needs. After transplant, I work with the patients and their caregivers to ensure adequate food safety due to immunosuppression, monitor labs, assist in avoiding nutrient-medication interactions, and help prepare the children for independence as they grow into adults.
I also have a private practice providing nutritional counseling to those seeking general well-being, weight management, vegetarian/vegan/plant-based diets, as well as a number of medical nutrition therapies such as diabetes, heart conditions, or kidney failure. I provide counseling in person, over the phone, over skype, or online. I will hopefully be accepting new clients again in January. Over time, I plan to implement more blog posts, newsletters, webinars, Facebook groups, and other resources for my clients who will have lifetime membership access to such resources. I am a Strong4Life Certified Nutritionist/Dietitian in the state of Georgia with a background of working with all age groups from infants to seniors.
What are your ‘typical’ daily/weekly tasks?
In a typical week, I participate in 3 outpatient clinics as part of a multidisciplinary team. Time not spent in those clinics is spent in team conferences or rounds to keep up to date on our patients for continuity of care, charting, participating in CEU (Continuing Education Unit) activities or conferences, and meeting with patients who are in cath lab for routine or annual biopsies (which check for rejection).
What has been your career path?
After high school, I spent time working in a corporate finance office before returning to college for my BS in Dietetics. My first years as a RDN were spent working full-time hours, although I was PRN, in a 600 bed adult inpatient hospital. This opportunity allowed me to see patients on every unit, including heart failure and ICU, preparing me to work with such a special population.
What advanced education or special training do you have?
Currently I have my BS in Dietetics. I am also preparing to sit for the CSP (Board Certification as a Specialist in Pediatric Nutrition) exam in the near future. Each year, I attend transplant nutrition focused CEUs and conferences (such as NATCO).
In an ideal world, what does the industry look like 5 years from now?
I believe telemedicine will become more established allowing dietitians to sit in front of a computer screen, using programs like Skype, to follow up with patients with nutrition counseling between their physical clinic visits. Food diaries will be easier to obtain using apps. More dietitians will reach out using social media such as Facebook Groups to motivate their clients. Everything will be more technology focused and dietitians will be more accessible.
What misinformation about RDs would you like to clear up?
We are not ‘owned’ by big food industries. RDs, in general, care about people first, want people to get in good, wholesome nutrition in ways that work best for the individual they are talking to which may or may not include brand name foods, but we recognize the place that certain types of foods or formulas have. We do our best to keep up to date with trends, the most recent science, and behavioral practices to help others make the most nutritious decisions. We are not walking text books but if we care about our patients and are passionate about our field, we’ll research your questions if we don’t already know the answer and base it on evidence-based science.
What are challenges you encounter as a RD?
Dispelling common misinformation driven by the media, food companies, people calling themselves ‘nutritionists’, and sometimes even other health professionals. Many times when I first meet a new patient, they are not aware of my background that includes a pre-med degree and assume we will only talk about topics such as recipes or calories.
What do people think that you do for a living?
In general, people probably think I’m like the food police telling people what they can or cannot eat. Others believe I probably write out meal plans telling people what exactly they can or cannot eat every single day which I do not.
What are you passionate about in dietetics?
Helping others. It’s really simple but that’s all it comes down to; helping others to help themselves by educating them and providing them with tools, helping others stay healthy when very sick, and helping others live the healthiest life they can. I am very lucky that I get to work with children. Children are the best patients! The little ones are usually smiling through their hard times and give you hugs and kisses. It’s pretty amazing to be part of something in which we take children who are critically ill and give them a second chance at life. I can’t imagine doing anything else with my life.
What makes RDs unique/different from other nutrition/wellness professionals?
We are held up to a set of standards including a minimum of a Bachelor’s of Science in nutrition (which includes many of the same undergraduate courses doctors end up taking) as well as Dietetic Internship (which includes various rotations in various settings) followed by an exam. We have to complete all of these as well as stay up to date on current research, policies, and trends whereas many people who have simply taken up an interest in nutrition by reading a lot of articles can call themselves a “Nutritionist”.
More about Julie:
Facebook Page: Planted in Nutrition: Counseling & Services
Website: Planted in Nutrition
LinkedIn: Julie Wallace, RD, LD
*Currently, my business is on hold due to health issues. I am hoping to be up and running again in January. I am active on social media, however, so please feel free to follow me.